I have so many disorganised thoughts that I’ll just spit out and hope that they end up being coherent .
I’m all in for opening the nominations to non-kinetic VNs. Having a full range of choices would spice things up and be more representative of the VN medium. It might not be super convenient like something neatly divided by chapters but I’m sure we would find a way to make it work. Surely we’re not the first VN club that has worked on a VN together, right? I agree that it will be unique for each one. Ultimately if everything fails, worst case scenario we can divide each week purely by character count and leave it at that (e.g. Week 3, 15k characters). That would create problems like having hard stops in critical moments, or we can always shorten or lengthen the character count in that case. One possible benefit that we could have with pure character count is that depending on the VN difficulty we can have a poll about how many characters people are comfortable with and go with an average, adjustable as time goes on. This is, of course, supposing Textractor works as good as with Loopers, which is not automatically guaranteed. Also not everyone has access to Textractor so what I’m thinking is that we could have a repository, something like a collapsable window in the first post that is divided by chunks of character counts like, let’s say, every 5k, and if you click one it shows a screenshot (that we can previously warn about if they contain spoilers). So every 5k characters there’s one screenshot that people can see to discuss or know where they are approximately, while keeping everything safe with spoilers (e.g. Question about content between screenshots 3-4). Can be whatever amount we decide on. Anyways just an idea, not sure in practice how effective or terrible it would be.
About the difficulty, this is I think where it gets messy. Personally I think we should embrace the uniqueness of the medium and differentiate this club from the others as we need. What I mean by this is that we don’t necessarily have to adhere to a specific format or rules, I think by now it’s clear that this will very much depend on what VN we’re reading and what fits best to that particular title unless, again, we go by pure weekly character count and its issues. It also seems super hard to divide it into very defined difficulties like you can for other clubs with children books, teenager books, young adult, and so on. I don’t think having two VN clubs divided by difficulty would be a good idea because the participation already is pretty low, so that leaves us with one club open to any VN. I guess if we measure by book clubs this would automatically puts us up with the advanced book club in terms of potential difficulty range and/or expected reading amount. This is where, I think, compromises must be made. As ccookf mentioned, quite a few of us here are upper WaniKani levels (or 60s) and while that doesn’t really mean anything in terms of overall language proficiency (I know this is true for myself, I’m by no means an advanced learner at all) I think it’s fair to say that at the very least it makes guessing readings or learning new vocabulary much easier than it is for people in lower levels, just out of pure familiarity. I don’t do WK at all anymore but for the ones of you that do, having daily reviews and lessons on top of a large amount of reading is not appealing at all. However, at the same time I think a certain degree of commitment is needed and while I think there should still be room to read other things on the side, I think that’s something that perhaps should be personally decided depending on how every one of us judge the difficulty of what we’re reading. What I mean by this is that in my opinion we shouldn’t limit the VN club strictly to easy and short reads so that there’s room for the rest of the clubs; instead, everyone can personally decide if they can add other clubs on top of the VN depending on how they judge its difficulty. I don’t think we should necessarily pick hard things to read, either. I guess this leaves us with picking things purely out of what we’re interested in reading and adjust the pace accordingly.
Overall I think it’s a matter of having an only club for a very wide range of language proficiency levels; what someone finds hard, another person might find easy, and so on. I don’t think we can do it any other way, though, having more than one club for this is a dead sentence. So I guess this is where we all have to commit and decide what limit we want to put to things, either on difficulty or on length. Personally I ended up wanting to read a lot more of Loopers once I got a bit more accustomed until now, when I read the chapter in one or two days and wait six or five until the next chapter. In my case, obviously, I wouldn’t mind reading something harder or longer, but that’s just me and doesn’t mean the rest of the club is the same so I understand. I don’t read any other book clubs so of course I’m eager to read more, but to someone reading more clubs it might end up feeling suffocating, even if that doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with the club itself. Personally I would love the club to be a super active place with tons of discussions not only about the plot and whatnot but also a place where we could actively learn more and work through Japanese together, discuss grammar, and so on, so in that regard I don’t really mind the difficulty (unless it’s like impossible to meet each week’s schedule). That’s only because I don’t read other clubs and can go all-in with this, though, which is not necessarily what you all may want and that’s perfectly fine. I guess all of this to say that I’m fine with whatever, and while I would be a tiny bit sad for the lost opportunities like reading the more famous VNs, I’m sure I would still have a blast and will definitely participate. It’s not like I’m advanced enough to make the best experience out of those VNs yet, anyway.
We could throw in some polls, perhaps? That way we can maybe easily see how people want to do things, if we’re comfortable with the current pace, if we want less or more, shorter or longer VNs, and so on. Or just simply nominate things, see what wins, and then plan accordingly with a reasonable commitment that allows catch ups, breaks and other unplanned setbacks.